Where to study fashion? TOP-10 fashion design schools in the US
Runways, A-line, power dressing, haute couture, lookbooks, cruise collection, trompe l'oeil, Peter Pan collar, pret-a-porter, leg-of-mutton… If these are not empty words for you and you understand the meaning of each term, then you are definitely into fashion.
This means not just scrolling fashion brands Instagrams and reading reviews on celebrities red carpet looks. Oh, no! That is much bigger! If you consider fashion as an object of study, then you understand the history of fashion houses, distinguish cap sleeve from a raglan sleeve and know how to design each of them, recognize a vintage couture dress in a pile of rags. You know the first Dior’s collection inside out and can manage its comparative analysis with the latest one by Elie Saab.
You know that fashion is not about glamour and fame, it’s more likely about hard-working nights before presentations and precise calculations of forthcoming shows, and still, you dream of it? Then you presumably would like to study this subject and connect your life with a fashion career.
To get a job in the fashion industry, you should start with a proper education. The institutions that carry great weight and help students right from the faculty reach out to fashion insiders are probably preferable to enter.
If employment is your primary concern, then you must pay attention to the fact, that the number of fashion graduates increases every year. In the US we can talk about an oversupply of people with the degree in fashion design. Each year the American fashion deals with the necessity of making room for 1,700 graduates, and it is unlikely that everyone of this number can be hired subsequently by specialty.
Knowing about the high level of rivalry in this field, facing all possible circumstances you still want to study fashion? Then go on to our TOP-10 fashion design schools list. “You can never be overdressed or overeducated,” as Oscar Wilde once mentioned. And this is exactly the case.
Parsons School of Design (New York, New York)
Founded in 1896, named after its creator, an impressionist painter William Merritt Chase, the institution received its current title in 1936. Parsons School of Design owes a lot to Frank Alvah Parsons, first a teacher, then the director of the School. He predicted the irreversible synchronization of art and design with industries. His progressive vision of these disciplines gave the green light to teaching fashion and interior design, advertising and graphic design from the early 1900’s.
Parsons School of Design always remained in such progressive positions in art and design. Concerning fashion education, this School is still one of the leading in the US and, honestly to say, the most prestigious one. It offers graduate and undergraduate fashion programs to study: Fashion Design, Strategic Design and Management, Product Design - Accessories, Fashion Design and Society, Photography Fashion Design.
These programs are available through studios, seminars, and workshops with famous designers. They intend to give an innovative approach to a job in the industry and to prepare high-quality specialists for fashion design, development, marketing, and distribution.
The vast number of famous alumni impresses! Donna Karan, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Isaac Mizrahi, Anna Sui, Jason Wu, Jack McCollough, Steven Meisel, Zac Posen (and this is far from the complete list!) made the first steps to the incredible success in fashion right here in Parsons School.
Due to its high-class status, the price for annual tuition in Parsons School of Design almost reaches $50,000.
Fashion Institute of Technology (New York, New York)
Adaptable academic programming, experiential learning opportunities, academic, and industry partnerships, innovations in research, and entrepreneurship – this is what Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) situated in New York offers to its students. It uses modern, innovative methods in its work, though FIT has a quite old history.
Everything started in 1944 in restless wartime period. The tailor’s profession was shifted backward by more demanded lawyers and doctors jobs. The initial mission was to help promote education for the apparel industry and help people in business who continued their unprofitable affair anyway.
Soon the mission transformed into bringing more prestige to the industry and through years it still aims to provide the excellence in design and business. The alumnus state that they get the real world experience learning in Fashion Institute of Technology. Being students, they can already practice on-campus jobs, enter the internship and job database, take part in different honors programs and so on.
The list of alumnus is also something to be proud of. Calvin Klein, Nanette Lepore, Reem Acra, Nina Garcia, Francisco Costa, Joe Zee, Brian Atwood, Ralph Rucci, Dennis Basso, Daniel Vosovic can definitely inspire FIT students with their achievements.
The programs available are Accessories Design, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing, Direct and Interactive Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Fabric Styling, Fashion Business Management, Illustration, International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries, Jewelry Design, Menswear, Textile Development and Marketing, and more.
The annual tuition differs for New York State residents (about $7,000 for undergraduates and $11,000 for graduates) and out-of-state residents (circa $20,000 for undergraduates and $23,000 for graduates).
Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New York)
Founded in 1887, Pratt Institute was one of the first American colleges teaching students regardless of their social class, skin color, or gender. The primary challenge of the 20th century in the face of industrialization got an answer from Charles Pratt (the founder) in providing design and engineering programs. To prepare students for the real existing jobs was the main task of the institution, and it remains the same.
Fashion studies are provided here among architecture, art, design, information studies, and liberal arts and sciences. It's a craft-based industry education. Fashion Design program for undergraduates offers to study fashion along with applied arts.
Pratt's Fashion Department lets students gain an essential experience outside the classroom. With its museum collection, vast archives, and studios learning of design processes and histories becomes interactive. Pratt Institute also provides an opportunity for students to take part in internships at the top design companies like Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Zero Maria Cornejo, Rag & Bone, and others; to take part in annual design competitions. Such a fixation on professional networking is a vital necessity for future designers.
A wide variety of narrow-focused courses like shoe design, millinery, zero-waste construction, tailoring techniques, jewelry design, leather and fur provides you with craftsmanship which is competitive on the market.
Pay $48,000 a year and get a possibility to study fashion with a focus on sustainable design and become the Pratt Institute student with bright career prospects.
Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston, Massachusetts)
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, also known as MassArt, was founded in 1873 as a college of visual and applied arts. In 1907 Fashion Design was established within its walls, so it’s one of the oldest fashion programs in the US. It has all started with courses of Designs for Wallpapers, Textiles, Costume.
A strong focus on manufacturing and technologies was always a strong part of MassArt from the first days of its existence. Pattern Drafting, Draping Practice, Historic Costume Fashion Department were launched in 1915. Costume and Textile Design programs were added in 1921. To expand students’ knowledge and adapt them to industrialization realities, Retail Trade and Theatre Design courses were included in the main program in 1926.
Nowadays Fashion Design in MassArt teaches students developing design concepts in 2D and 3D designs, digital and manual drawings, working out patterns, constructing garments. Besides the needed basics, students get knowledge of business fundamentals of apparel marketing, manufacturing, and fashion production procedures.
It’s a good option for state residents with affordable price for annual tuition circa $13,000. The out-of-state residents must pay over $34,000 for their schooling. The certificate in Fashion Design field can be completed in two years of studying.
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (Los Angeles, California)
Reality-based, career-oriented Fashion Design program of the West Coast to become a leader in the global fashion industry. This is how the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising presents its Fashion Design course, and we can hardly argue with this statement.
The college was founded in 1969 already with programs in fashion, interior and graphic design, entertainment and beauty. Nowadays this vocational and design college gives an incredible career option for graduates. About 90% of post-graduate (which stay in touch with the school) find a job in the industry within half a year after graduation.
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising offers students an opportunity to graduate after nine months with the renowned Advanced Study Fashion Design Program. In this short period, saturated with intense training students create their own clothing line from unique idea to a runway. Industry insiders, fashion celebrities, family, friends, and fellow students will be invited to the show and will be able to estimate the results of work without fear or favor.
Besides the usual fashion schools courses like Design, Business Management, Menswear, International Manufacturing & Product Development, FIDM also offers students something so Californian: Film & TV Costume Design and The Business of Denim are indeed LA-ish.
Depending on the area of study the price varies from $30,000 to $42,000. Anyway, the former students report that quite a high amount is justified. Lubov Azria (from BCBG Max Azria), Pamela Skaist-Levy (from Juicy Couture), Monique Lhuillier, Randolph Duke, Mandi Line can prove it with their career in fashion and costume design.
Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia)
From 1978, the year of foundation, SCAD preserves its status of the university for creative careers. When the college just started working it offered unique programs not yet provided in the territory of the southeast. Nowadays it has a few locations in Georgia, study-abroad campuses in Hong Kong and Lacoste, France, and a degree-granting online education program.
Best programs to choose for those who dream to get a career in the industry: Fashion Design, Fashion Marketing and Management, Accessory Design, Fibers, Jewelry, Luxury and Fashion Management, Fibers.
As SCAD students assure, studying here is a challenging academical process. The workload is so tense that some weekdays can be entirely devoted to homework. But if you have perseverance in achieving the goal, the results will be impressive. Networking and career training will start from the first day of study.
The annual tuition for undergraduate and graduate is approximately similar and makes up about $35,000.
Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, California)
Otis College of Art and Design was the city's first independent school of art in 1918, the year it was established. And for many decades it has been considered one of the leading Californian art institutions. In our days, Otis is one of the most culturally diverse art schools in the US.
The fashion department of Otis College of Art and Design can be proud of its tight relationship with the fashion industry insiders and following the cutting-edge innovations. With a powerful outside base, it can offer students learning from and working with high-class fashion designers.
Otis fashion program also has much to do with sustainability in design. Sustainable Design can be taught with a unique course teaching to produce and develop eco-friendly, smart fashion. One more benefit is a fashion design mentorship program where fashion experts lead students’ learning process.
One of the top U.S. design programs in the country is offered for $35,000 per year.
Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Drexel University was founded in 1891 as the Institute with focus on art, science, and industry. As a huge institution with a variety of departments, Drexel has always been aimed at career preparation. The educational opportunities in the practical arts and sciences are available for students with all backgrounds.
The university's Fashion Design program is considered one of the top-20 global fashion programs. Undergraduates can select from Fashion Design and Design and Merchandising with an annual price circa $50,000 for a program. Fashion Design is available for graduates with yearly tuition $995 per credit hour.
Fashion Design covers courses on men's, women's, and children's wear, swimwear, and couture, etc. In the classroom studies, the conditions of the professional environment are created. Final critiques from the practicing experts is a bottom line of each program.
Besides the coursework, students participate in design competitions with their developments. University also supports those who want to take an internship abroad. For most of them, the study program in London College of Fashion is available.
The senior year of study finishes with a beautiful fashion show, where the students' collections are presented.
The Design & Merchandising program is solidly aimed at a business component so to prepare the students for the real industry's conditions.
Careers in fashion design, styling, advertising, and retail await for the graduates after getting a diploma.
Kent State University (Kent, Ohio)
A hundred years after its establishment in 1910, Kent State University was placed on the list of the top-200 universities in the world by Times Higher Education. Founded as a school for preparing teachers, in process of time KSU has widely expanded its initial goals. Three hundreds of degree programs available today speak for themselves. Nursing, business, history, library science, aeronautics, journalism, fashion design are probably the most notable programs as per statistics.
School of Fashion Design and Merchandising appeared on the basis of the university in 1983. Now it is the largest in the College of the Arts with over 1,500 undergraduates. This school is one of the best in the USA, and it keeps getting better constantly.
Two types of programs offered, Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising, were put on the #4 in the US and #17 worldwide by Business of Fashion Ranking in 2017. Such a high position is explained by high-profile programs allowing to complete a fashion-oriented undergraduate or MBA in the industry in just five years.
The Summer Fashion Academy, the Annual Fashion Show, and Yearly Fashion/Tech Hackathon are seemingly convincing us in the in-depth School's development in the field of fashion.
One more benefit is the freedom to choose scholarships and study-abroad programs while you are learning. Kent's School of Fashion Design and Merchandising students can take a semester in Paris, Milan, Florence, London, Hong Kong or study for a year in a garment center studio in NYC.
Annual tuition is $9,000 for Ohio residents, and ~ $17,000 for students from other states.
Academy of Art University (San Francisco, California)
The largest private art and design school in the United States is The Academy of Art University. It was initiated as a school for advertising art in 1929 in San Francisco, California.
Advertising, Architecture, Fine Art, Game Development, Graphic Design, Illustration, Jewelry and Metal Arts, Web Design & New Media, Writing for Film, Television and Digital Media are only a part of a modern professions list offered today by this school. Of course, Fashion is among them.
This is the first university that has been invited to showcase student works at New York Fashion Week biannually. Since 2005 students that study fashion in The Academy of Art University perform on high-class runways.
The students can show their best in a variety of different fashion directions thanks to university's strong reputation in costume, knitwear, textile design. Technical skills which students receive are highly demanded by the industry.
Excellence in design, artistic vision, and innovative technology are organically combined in all fashion programs. Unlike many other similar institutions, The Academy of Art prepares professionals for fashion journalism, merchandising, and business programs.
No-barrier policy made admissions possible for the students with various backgrounds but connected with a passion for studying art and design. The price for a year is about $20,000 for both graduates and undergraduates, which is also scored as a side of this policy.
To take your place under a fashion sun and to achieve a dizzying career success you need to make a first and a very responsible step which is a choice of an educational institution. So as not to be mistaken you should determine your goals and ambitions in the industry.
“Just because you work in the fashion industry, it doesn't mean you live your life in fashion,’ famous designer Phillip Lim once said. If you are ready for the challenges, prepared for you by the fashion world, then you have already chosen your own path. Don’t lose your sense of fashion, and polish it up in one of the art & design schools which can offer their best at your disposal.